Monday, 19 September 2016

getting back into the swing of gardening

I was surprised at how stiff I felt this morning after yesterday's efforts.  I thought we had quite an active holiday walking around gardens and exploring ruins, but clearly time spent shuffling through stately homes doesn't provide an equivalent workout to hedge cutting, not to mention all the hours of sitting in the car.  And my hands were tired enough last night for me to think that even though I've just had my secateurs sharpened and they are the best swivelling handle Felcos, still I had better pace myself with the pruning and alternate between that and other jobs not needing the secateurs so that I didn't wake up one day and find I'd knackered my grip and wouldn't be able to do anything for a month.

So I made tomato soup, since we have tomatoes.  I told the housesitters they were welcome to eat any of the tomatoes as they ripened and asked that they pick the rest of the ripe ones and put them in the fridge, but they don't seem to have done either of these things, to judge from the quantity of ripe and in some cases overripe fruit on the plants and absence of picked ones.  They probably didn't notice the instruction about the tomatoes in the welter of advice about the cats.  My basic tomato soup method is to sweat onion and carrot in butter, then add the tomatoes and simmer until everything's soft, then liquidise, pips and all.  It makes quite an acceptable soup even if you don't have any stock, with a sprinkle of Marigold powder and a herb of your choice.  At the moment I'm using dried basil, which works fine.  If you don't happen to have grown any basil, and I haven't, it negates the idea of a cheap basic soup if you have to go and buy a packet or pot of the fresh stuff. If I am feeling lavish I might add some tomato puree and a tiny bit of sugar for extra tomato taste, or some cream if I have any.  I might progress to tomato and lentil soup now it's autumn, in which case I could switch ground cumin for the basil.

I tried to ring the plastic company about my acrylic sheet, but nothing happens when you ring their number and their website doesn't come up any more, so I think they have gone bust.  I have lodged a claim with PayPal and am waiting to see what happens next.  In all my years of internet shopping this is the first time I've had a supplier fail so the PayPal compensation scheme is a whole new uncharted territory.  It is a nuisance.  We'd used that plastic distributor twice before and they used to be very good.  There again, plastics stockholding is not a high quality business.  In my small company days I don't think I'd have expected it to be on a very high rating.

After lunch I went to the dump with another five bags of long grass from the lawns, and a box with the broken glass from the greenhouse roof.  Ah, the glamour and excitement of gardening.  I thought I would treat myself to a new large propagating case for this year's pots of dwarf bulbs, after having to seal up the old cases last year with gaffer tape where the corners had chipped and the roof vents had dropped out, and the two years before that where I didn't manage to shut the cases sufficiently and the mice destroyed almost every bulb.  However, the Clacton garden centre had run out of lids, and I had to make do with a new pair of gardening socks.

Something has been burrowing in the largest pot in the conservatory, excavating quite a pile of compost and bits of chewed root from the Eriobotrya 'Coppertone'.  I suspect mice, having not found any cat poo in the pile of dug-out compost.  I was all set to lay an electric rat zapper but found that one of my traps, the one that got rained on when the pane fell out of the greenhouse roof and has been drying in the laundry ever since, did not show any signs of life even with four new batteries, while the batteries in the second had rotted and dissolved two of the terminals.  The Systems Administrator kindly switched the intact battery holder from the defunct zapper to the trap that had not been watered, and it is duly charged with fresh batteries and baited with a peanut.  I shall see what I catch, if anything.  The SA thought one of the cats might have mistaken the giant pot for a conveniently situated litter tray, but I am sure it's mice.  There is a hole.

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